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The easily missed warning signs of suicidal behavior

Local psychologist says society has been taught to look for the wrong signs when it comes to suicidal behavior.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Recent data from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention finds suicide to be the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2020, there were an estimated 1.20 million suicide attempts across the nation. Just recently, in 2022 and 2023, stories of celebrities, like Stephen 'tWitch' Boss, former 'Ellen' DJ, taking his own life, and a the California man who drove his car, with his family inside, off of a cliff have made national headlines. 

It seems each time tragic events like these happen, the results are due to mental health. Typically, those close to the suicidal individual will have said the person didn't seem unhappy, or this death or attempt at suicide was out of the blue. But, child psychologist, Dr. Andrea Mata, says society has been taught to look for the wrong signs. 

 "The three typical things are that they give away their prized possessions, depression, and they leave a suicide note. But research has shown those aren't great warning signs," Mata said. 

She said only 25% of those who die by suicide actually leave a note. When it come to those who are depressed, in a group of 600 people suffering from depression, only one person may actually be suicidal.

"A lot of the time they are trying to hide the signs from their loved ones," Mata said.  

Statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention  found, 

  • The rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men.
  • In 2020, men died by suicide 3.88x more than women.
  • On average, there are 130 suicides per day.
  • White males accounted for 69.68% of suicide deaths in 2020.

The  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, found more than 90% of people who attempt suicide and survive, actually never go on to die by suicide. Additionally, suicides and nonfatal self-harm, within the United States, costs nearly $490 billion through medical bills, work loss costs, value of statistical life, and quality of life costs. 

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Mata says the phrase 'Is Path Warm' are nine signals which highlight the actions of someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts. The video below explains:

Mata said the best way to find out if some one is planning to or thinking about taking their own life, is to ask them directly. She said if they're serious about it, more than likely, they'll be honest and say if they are. By getting a direct answer, as the person asking, you can get them the help they need. 

For more information on how to get help for you or someone else, call or text 988, or click here for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

For information about Dr. Andrea Mata's services, click here for her website; additionally, Mata's social media presence offers more tips as well, click here.

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